With 28 teams hitting the ice tonight, the NHL will be a busy place on Saturday night. Because pretty much every team plays tonight, there are no NHL games scheduled for tomorrow. As always, be sure to check out our Starting Goalies and Team Lineups sections. Both of these areas are updated as we receive the news. Let’s take a look at some news and notes regarding tonight’s action.
The New York Rangers hit the road after losing two straight at home. King Henrik Lundqvist has had to stand on his head the entire season, as the Rangers have played pretty loose on the defensive side. Because the Rangers are dealing with injuries to many of their “star” players, they’ve really had to rely on players like Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky to step their games up.
After being shutout by Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to bounce back in a big way. Youngster Tyler Bozak found the back of the net for the first time this season against the Florida Panthers earlier in the week and has looked better and better with each game played. Some good news for the Leafs regarding Kris Versteeg. He’ll be back after missing the game against the Bruins and you can see the updated lines here. Jean-Sebastien Giguere goes for the Leafs tonight. He’s 2-4-1 with a 3.16 GAA and a .893 SV% against the Rangers during his career. He’s 1-0-0 against them this year.
The Florida Panthers will likely be without the services of Stephen Weiss who was reportedly injured playing soccer prior to the morning skate today. Tomas Vokun starts between the pipes for the Panthers tonight. He’ll look to stay above water against the red-hot Habs, and is coming off a lackluster performance against the Sens in which he allowed five goals on 28 shots.
Not only are the Montreal Canadians looking for their fifth straight win tonight when they host the Panthers, they’ll also see defenseman Andrei Markov back on the ice for the first time this season. Markov will play on the same line with P.K. Subban during tonight’s action. Alex Auld made 30 saves during a victory last night against the New York Islanders on Carey Price’s night off. Price will get the nod tonight and in four career games against the Panthers, Price is 2-2-0 with a 2.74 GAA and a .915 SV%. Andrei Kostitsyn didn’t record a point last night against the Isles, but still has six points over his last four games and a plus-minus rating of plus-6 on the season.
Tim Thomas squares off against Brian Elliott as the Bruins travel to Ottawa. Elliott has quietly put up good numbers for the Sens, winning his last two starts and not allowing more than three goals during any of those games. Elliott will be receiving some help soon, as Pascal Leclaire returned to the ice this weekend. The Sens will also have Jason Spezza back on the ice tonight, but will be without Milan Michalek for a week due to a knee injury. Alex Kovalev has collected four points over his last two games, which also includes three goals.
Timmy T has been brilliant this season and has shown no side effects from his offseason surgery thus far. Thomas is undefeated through his first five games and has posted a 0.60 GAA during those five games. Tuukka Rask has appeared in just two games this season and has lost both of them. Thomas appears to be the man for Boston moving forward and should be owned in all fantasy leagues. Nathan Horton is enjoying his time in Beantown, posting nine points through his first seven games.
Coming off a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to get back on track, but will have their work cut out for them as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, NC. After missing most of the third period last night due to an undisclosed injury, the Pens are confident Evgeni Malkin will play tonight. Whichever way you cut it, Marc-Andre Fleury has been horrible this season. Over his last five games, he’s 1-4 and hasn’t allowed less than three goals during any of those starts. Until MAF finds his lost mojo, the Pens will need to stick with veteran Brent Johnson. Johnson likely gets the nod tonight for the Pens and is 6-5-2 with a 2.95 GAA against the Canes over his career.
Biggest news for the Canes over the past few games has been the play of netminder Cam Ward and rookie winger Jeff Skinner. Both continue to impress this season, as Ward has won three of his last four starts and is coming off an impressive 40 save night against the Rangers at MSG. Skinner also had a terrific night in NYC, collecting three points including two goals. Skinner is now tied with captain Eric Staal for the team lead in the points department with seven.
The big news in the Nashville Predators – Detroit Red Wings matchup is the injury of netminder Jimmy Howard. Howard has missed his last two scheduled starts due to back spasms suffered earlier in the week, but the good news is that the medical examinations and tests are all negatives. Chris Osgood makes another start for the Red Wings with Joey MacDonald listed as the backup. Johan Franzen will look to score in his fourth straight game and has looked good since returning from an injury earlier in the season. Pekka Rinne has been on fire even with his injury to start the season. Even with Rinne allowing three goals to the Blues last game, he’s still sporting a 1.88 GAA and a .946 SV%. Against Detroit over his career, he’s 5-1-2 with a 2.09 GAA and a .937 SV%.
Netminder Jaroslav Halak looks to continue his shutout streak against the Atlanta Thrashers tonight. Halak has posted a 5-1-1 record with a 1.55 GAA this season and looks to stop an Atlanta Thrashers team that has won two in a row. While Atlanta may seem like an easy team to shutout, that simply isn’t true. The Thrashers have yet to be shutout this season and have had terrific offense from Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane. While Dustin has scored in his last two games, Evander has collected four points over his last three games. After a scary moment to start the season, netminder Ondrej Pavelec is back between the pipes for the Thrashers tonight.
The Chicago Blackhawks are shaking things up due to injuries for tonight’s contest against the Minnesota Wild. Center Dave Bolland is out with an undisclosed injury and Ryan Potulny is up from the AHL to replace him. Marian Hossa still remains out and is likely out for two more weeks. Patrick Sharp is looking to score in his fifth straight game tonight and has tallied seven points over his last four games. In case you were wondering, Sharp is on pace for 73 goals this season and 109 points…(Yes, it’s a joke).
The Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars will both send their backup netminders out to the ice tonight. Both Patrick Lalime and Andrew Raycroft have appeared in one game this season, so I expect a high scoring game in Texas tonight. Maybe tonight’s game is the game that winger Brenden Morrow gets going, as after a very hot first week of play, he’s failed to record a point in his last four games. Buffalo’s Derek Roy has collected multi-point games in his last three contests, so there is no reason to think it won’t happen again tonight. The Sabres are still waiting on winger Jason Pominville to return the ice full time.
Despite a mediocre start to the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have rattled off three straight wins. After allowing six goals to the Calgary Flames back on October 22nd, netminder Steve Mason has won his last two contests with a 1.97 GAA. Columbus is still without winger Kristian Huselius and defenseman Kris Russell due to injuries. Even with winger Chris Stewart playing on a different planet right now, the Colorado Avalanche have won two of their last five games. Stewart has not only recorded nine points over his last five games, he’s fresh off a hat-trick against the Flames. Netminder Craig Anderson’s status is still uncertain after his knee injury, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning travel to Arizona to take on the Phoenix Coyotes. Stamkos currently leads the NHL in total points and seems to be playing out of his mind right now. Although he hasn’t scored a goal since his hat-trick against the Atlanta Thrashers a week ago, he’s pitched in four assists over his last two games. After being pulled in favor for Dan Ellis after eleven shots during his last game, Mike Smith you have to figure takes a seat to Dan Ellis. The Bolts don’t need terrific goaltending, but they need someone who can give them more than what Mike Smith has done. Ilya Bryzgalov was confirmed to play between the pipes for the Yotes exclusively by Daily Faceoff earlier in the day. Bryzgalov is 3-1-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .927 SV% this season. He’s fresh off an outstanding performance against the Red Wings in which he allowed two goals on 45 shots.
The Washington Capitals are hoping to end their roadtrip on a high note tonight as they pay a visit to the Calgary Flames. The Caps are 2-3 over their last five games and have seen just two points from Alex Ovechkin over those five games. Netminder Michal Nuevirth will again get the start for the Caps tonight. He’s been excellent all season long and has posted a 2-1 record over his last three starts with a 1.66 GAA. Washington has been dealing with the injury bug over the past two weeks, but will have Boyd Gordon back on the ice tonight. Flames’ netminder Miikka Kiprusoff had a night off on Thursday when the Flames lost to the Avs, so I fully expect him to start against the high-powered offense of the Caps. Over his last four starts, Kipper is 3-1 with a 2.00 GAA and has also recorded two shutouts during this time period. Rene Bourque has eight points over his last four games while Olli Jokinen finally scored his first goal of the season and now has four points over his last four games. Alex Tanguay has clicked nicely on the top line for Calgary, as he’s collected five points over his last four games after not recording a point in his first three games.
The Los Angeles Kings return to the Staples Center this evening where they have yet to lose a game and will be hosting the New Jersey Devils. The Devils desperately need to find a glimmer of hope, as this season has been a disaster to this point. Ilya Kovalchuk has just one point in five games while center Travis Zajac has two points over his last ten games. Martin Brodeur will be looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season. This comes one night after holding the Anaheim Ducks to just one goal on 28 shots. Over 14 career games against the Kings, Marty is 8-5-1 with a 2.04 GAA and a .921 SV%. Brodeur is currently third in the NHL for shots against with 302 and third in the NHL with 274 saves. Some good news for the Devils and Jamie Langenbrunner fantasy owners, as the winger was reunited on the top line with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise.
The Kings are still without defenseman Drew Doughty (concussion) but expect to have him back early next week. Winger Wayne Simmonds is playing tonight despite leaving Thursday’s game against the Stars. Winger Justin Williams looks to score in his third straight game tonight and has collected points in his last five contests. Jack Johnson has picked up the offensive part of Doughty’s game while he’s been out, tallying five assists over his last three games. You can fully expect to see netminder Jonathan Quick make tonight’s start against the Devils, as he looks for his seventh win of the NHL season. He’s 4-1 over his last five starts with a 2.40 GAA and a .937 SV% and has easily been the best goalie in the NHL thus far.
Big Joe Thornton and the Sharks play host to the Anaheim Ducks. Thornton has eight points over his last three games including a hat-trick against the New Jersey Devils on October 27th. Until further notice, netminder Antero Niittymaki should be making the starts for the Sharks in net. The Antti Niemi experiment has worked at all this season and he looks completely lost out there.
Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan continue to reward fantasy owners this season. Not only do they both have four goals a piece, they both rank within the top ten in NHL in penalty minutes through eleven games.